UK fishers in line for compensation following government decision to restrict pollock catch

Small boats in Dorset, U.K.
Small boats in Dorset, U.K. | Photo courtesy of Starsphinx/Shutterstock
2 Min

U.K. fishers most impacted by new zero-catch restrictions on pollock could be compensated under a new scheme announced by U.K. Environment Secretary Steve Barclay.

The move follows government engagement with industry to best determine how to support the sector after making its decision to only allow pollock to be caught as bycatch.

“I fully recognize the impact that the bycatch-only advice has had on pollock fishers in Southwest [England] and have, therefore, acted to provide support to those most affected,” Barclay said in a statement. “The compensation scheme will support these hardworking fishers and provide them with an opportunity to move away from a reliance on the pollock fishery as we work to further support the recovery of the stock.”

According to the U.K. Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), the scheme will see around 50 vessel owners, who can no longer target pollock in 2024, forcing some to cease operations and lose all or some of their income, directly compensated for half their income lost due to the bycatch-only pollock fishery. Defra said the move is part of U.K. government’s work to back British fishers, with a modern and resilient industry underpinned by sustainable fish stocks and a healthy marine environment.

Those who were reliant on pollock for at least 30 percent of their 2023 income – mostly 10-meter-and-under inshore vessels using handlines – will receive compensation equal to 50 percent of the total value of pollock landings they made in 2023 in Western Waters (Area 7). Incomes will be verified using landings data held by the Marine Management Organization.

The affected fishermen have had their applications fast-tracked for a share of GBP 6 million (USD 7.5 million, EUR 7 million) in grant funding available through the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme. Separately, they were also offered the opportunity to be paid for their participation in a new scientific study which will aim to understand more about the stock structure of pollock and sell the pollock that they catch as part of the study.

In June 2023, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) advised the 2024 total allowable catch (TAC) for pollock in Western waters should be set at zero to ensure the long-term sustainability of the stock. In annual negotiations with the European Union, the United Kingdom secured a bycatch TAC for this stock of around 200 metric tons (MT).

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